To add to the theme of popular things I don’t quite get, I want to talk about tattoos (today) and travel (tomorrow).


Women and men of a certain age have these photos of David Beckham burned into their brains.  I do, just as I’ll always mentally redirect to this when I see a Calvin Klein garment on a woman.  It’s beautiful marketing, and there are probably books written on the subject.

Something like 40% of Millenials today have at least one tattoo.  More data:

harris research


And now a contradiction- employers are known to discourage tattoos, including the armed services.  Tattoo restrictions are a part of “appearance standards”, intended to minimize conflict between service members.  Corporations feel similarly- when you already have something of value, it’s natural to become more conservative.


So they’re more than happy to hire this guy.  He’s married.


But women love tattoos on men!  One of my friends (30 y.0. nurse, very average person) says that to her, a tattoo turns a boy into a man.  She’s not sure why- that’s the best she can explain it, and she’s Russian, where tattoos are associated w/ prison and the Mafia.

I’m confused as I write, and have been cutting and pasting these sentences around.  Blue Shirt will provide for your family.  But (even avoiding the “bad boy vs. nice guy” discussion), I can see how a tattoo on a man, as viewed by a woman, is a a sign of commitment, similar in many ways to owning a dog.  Beckham on his tattoos: “Mine are all about the people in my life, my wife and sons.”  It’s also a sign of being comfortable, a willingness to share, openness, like a musician and a man who dances.  It’s a sign of being part of society, being human, accepting imperfections, and being susceptible to group think.  These are attractive qualities to most women, in addition to how visually striking a dark tattoo can be on human skin.


Since some goals of my life fall outside the pyramid (for one, see self-transcendence, from the Maslow wiki article), I’m mildly put off by tattoos on both sexes.  They remind me of overly predictable people, population 7 billion, exponentially infesting the earth.  Another goal I have is to be unique.  Tattoos don’t help here, either.  Shame on me if this Blog shares something in common with tattoos and I’m not seeing it.  I think this is different, because I’m learning as I write, organizing ideas.  I also want people to read them and respond.  The vast majority of tattoos seem like attempts to be cool, cries for attention, or permanent, visual, always present reminders of something.  I interpret them as weaknesses.

My notable experiences w/ tattoos are as follows

  • Grandfather was in the Navy during WW2, and what remained was an amorphous blob on his upper arm, that deep green color.  He always kept it covered and possibly regretted it, then again, he never even wore shorts, just khaki pants.  Still, this man cared for nothing but his family, and the tattoo meant nothing to him.  I never heard more than a few sentences about the Navy.
  • My first roommate in college showed up with a random, generic Chinese character, or possibly an Aboriginal war symbol, on his upper arm.  At the time he was dating a 16 year old girl and joined Lamda Chi, the average nice guy fraternity.  Today he has a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering, a job at GE, and a fat wife.  He looks happy, but his life is very much not for me, and I knew it back in 2004 when he first took his shirt off.
  • Recent co-worker from Italy, has a PHD and brand new green card, ego problems, and a tattoo on his upper arm.  He’s short and walks with a limp because one leg is shorter than the other.  The tattoo is his own design, drawn in Solidworks, a combination of a mountain bike brake disc and something else, I forget what.  This same symbol also appears on the front cover of each of his neatly stacked 3 ring binders.  So, after work, he resizes and prints the image and slips it under the clear plastic cover, releasing some dopamine in his brain.  I never used this planned binder personalization in school, even when instructed by the syllabus.  If anything, I’d write the name of the class right on the plastic, w/ a sharpie, to be scribbled out + re-labelled next semester.  A few times I think I forced the name directly into the plastic with the tip of a ballpoint pen.  Tattoos and fighting the man are polar opposites in the coddled 2016 universe we live in.
  • A young and heavyset Irish machinist has tons of them all over his body, which he hid during his interview.  He drives a financed silver BMW with smoke colored aftermarket wheels and an “Ink Army” sticker on the rear hatch.  The <average looking waitress at a local bar fell instantly in lust with him.  We know why. He’s imperfect and might be willing to commit to her, too.  He loves to talk about how great he is at xyz, looks at reddit all day, and loses interest in anything else.

Less organized ideas:

tattoos on women

  • Being tattooed is associated with greater numbers of lifetime sexual partners (Heywood 2012), earlier sexual initiation, higher frequency of sexual intercourse
  • In students, tattooing is associated with risk-taking behaviors, including smoking and cannabis use (Heywood, 2012). Participants with tattoos or body piercings were more likely to have engaged in risk-taking behaviors and at greater degrees of involvement than those without either. These included gateway drug use, hard drug use, sexual activity, and suicide.
  • In Croatian prisoners, tattoos correlated with lower IQs and those possessing them demonstrated significantly higher levels of impulsiveness than the non-tattooed group (Pozgain 2004).
  • Psychiatric patients with tattoos are much more likely to suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder and have an increased likelihood to have previously suffered from sexual abuse, abused substances, or to have attempted suicide. (Sciencedaily).
  • There are links between tattoos and psychiatric disorders such as depression (Heywood, 2012), eating disorders (Carroll, 2002), borderline personality disorder (Raspa, 1990), neuroticism (Pozgain, 2004) and increased risk of suicide (Carroll, 2002).
  • Male opinion top reddit comment on women w/ tattoos: “They are hot if done right but it makes her look worse if done wrong.”  “done right” appears to mean “small”, “intimate location”, “original”, “tells a story”


  • It costs 4-5x the initial price to have a tattoo removed.
  • In Russia, 72% of respondents with face, neck, hands, or fingers tattoos have spent more than three days in jail, compared to 6% of the non-tattooed population.[41][42]


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